Gaming update: Halo 4, WoW Senator, Wii U unboxing ceremony and Elder Scrolls Online

For me, this week has been all about Halo 4. Yup, for once a major release hit store shelves and I'm playing it at the same time as everyone else. I've only managed four hours or so over the past two nights but so far I'm really enjoying the single player campaign. The pacing is really good for me; I'm never doing the same thing long enough to get bored. I think 343 Studios has proven themselves and the Halo universe is safe in their hands.

But on to the news. I'm going to blast through these because, yeah, I want to get back to Halo 4 (I write these updates on Thursday evenings).

Let's start with something fun. Here is Nintendo President Satoru Iwata performing a Wii U Unboxing Ceremony (as he calls it). Suddenly I want a Wii U! I get such a kick out of the president of a big company like Nintendo taking the time to do something like this, and slipping in a few jokes along the way:

Remember Colleen Lachowicz, the Maine Senator who was the target of a smear campaign because she played World of Warcraft? Well she won. Score one for the good guys, and by good guys I'm not talking about either political party. I'm talking about people smart enough to know that playing MMOs doesn't make you unfit to serve office. It was a ludicrous move on the part of her opposition.

Speaking of MMOs, Star Wars: The Old Republic will transition to a "free to play" model on November 15th. It seems like there are going to be an awful lot of restricitons for the non-subscribing player, though. I hear they even limit the number of toolbars free players can use.

The Star Wars version of Angry Birds is out. It's available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire...just about everything. Head over to the web page and click Download Now to find a bunch of links. I haven't tried it, but I'm hearing good things.

Twitch TV is really gaining momentum these days. Earlier this week Electronic Arts announced that they're integrating Twitch into their Origin game service. We're told you just have to bring up the Origin overlay, hit Shift-F1 (user configurable of course) and you're streaming your game. More details at the Origin website. Twitch is also integrated into Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming Planetside 2 massively multiplayer shooter.

Of course with EA supporting Twitch.TV, Activision had to go another way, and they've announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will have YouTube livestreaming built into its Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC versions. The Wii U version doesn't get this feature for some reason.

More video! Here's a nine minute feature on The Elder Scrolls Online (an upcoming MMO based in the same game world as Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim):

It's pretty easy to put together a gorgeous video and I'm reserving judgement on ESO, but I do have a friend who is in the beta and he seems pretty excited about it. We'll see.

If you're in the market for a solid state drive, you might want to check out this post at Engadget. Samsung is bundling a free copy of Assassin's Creed III with certain models of their SSDs.

Nyko launched its TegraZone PlayPad controllers this week. They're $40 ($10 cheaper than PowerA's MOGA controller) and are intended for use with Tegra 2 & 3 devices. AndroidCentral has more details.

In the meantime, VentureBeat is making a lot of noise about Green Throttle Gaming, another company making a mobile controller. VB says Green Throttle is going to "mobilize the living room" whatever that means. The twist here is that the company is trying to get Android game developers to support two players in their games. The plan is for you to connect a couple of Green Throttle Gaming controllers to your Android device (via Bluetooth), then run a cable to the TV from you MicroHDMI port (you have one, right?) and you've got a console system (according to GTG). I'll believe it when they get extensive developer support. Until then I'll keep waiting for Ouya.

And that's my news for this week. Like I said up top, I've mostly been playing Halo 4 and you know all about that, but while I was waiting for launch day I was enjoying an indie game on Xbox Live: XenoMiner. This is a game along the same lines of Minecraft (what are we going to call this genre? voxel-based construction game?) except in a sci-fi setting. You've crash landed on a planetoid and have to craft a shelter for yourself. The local sun's rays will kill you with its radiation so you need to work mostly at night, and there's a constant need of oxygen, of course. I'm not sure what you're supposed to be eating but there's no organic life on this planet.

The crafting system seems a lot deeper than the one in Minecraft, but the actual mining feels more streamlined (you only have one tool to mine everything). Recipes come from the ship's computer but you'll have to craft additional memory cores to power up the computer to access the more advanced ones. Apparently if you go far enough you can build a programmable robot to help you mine!

Anyway if you like the general gameplay of Minecraft but want to explore a new environment, XenoMiner is worth checking out. The demo is a bit too short but the full game is only 80 points, which translates to $1.00.

So what have you been playing?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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